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Umeh: Elated over APGA reconciliation

By Emma Maduabuchi

Victor Umeh, embattled National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), appears to be the happiest man in the South East geo-political zone of Nigeria at the moment. Reports indicated that he has been showing his happiness through words and actions, since some defected members of his party came to mend fences with him.

Umeh, who received the members at the party's headquarters in Abuja, was reported to have elatedly declared that his party would win the next governorship election of Anambra State coming up in 2014.

His words: “I had known that a day like this would come. The only thing I didn't know was the exact date. I know that the strength of a body is not in having no disputes, but in its ability to resolve disputes when they arise.”

He added: “The return and visit of our three exco (executive) members is a welcome idea. I am assuring Nigerians that by the next time we will gather here, nobody in the old APGA fold would be missing. I owe God all the gratitude for a day like this, because what is happening today is the real symbol of our strength and our motto of being one's brother's keeper.”

Umeh has been described in some quarters as a cat with many lives. He has done many battles for the soul of the party and as latest developments show is still standing. Along the line, he has battled Chekwas Okorie, founder of the party; Peter Obi, Governor of Anambra State, Silva Nwobu-Alor, a Special Adviser in Anambra State, and numerous others. At a time, he also battled Enugu State Chief Justice, Innocent Umezuruike, who barred him from parading himself as the party chairman.

While addressing Umeh at the reconciliation meeting in Abuja, Mic Adams, who withdrew his suit against the party leadership, said they were back for good. He encouraged other members, who had one grouse or another with the leadership of the party to return (like him), to help in building the party.

He praised Umeh, urging him to continue with the good work he was doing in building the party. “We do however commend Chief Victor Umeh, our National Chairman, and Dr. Sani Shinkafi, our National Secretary, for their efforts that despite the various challenges, crises, disagreements and unending litigations, the party still recorded remarkable achievements… With the joint efforts of all of us, our great party will (go places).

Analysts and critics, who commented on the development, saw it as the way of politicians, quarrelling one moment and reconciling the next moment, especially at the prospect of an election.

Ibuchukwu Ezike, Executive Director of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) took the opportunity to caution ordinary Nigerians not to take the issue of disagreement among politicians so seriously.

“Well, it is a good development for them if it is so. Politicians are like that, and that is why it is not good to pitch tent with any party if you are not a politician like them. People who called themselves names and accused themselves of huge crimes have just reconciled. Have the issues in contention suddenly gone away? What about the corruption issues and abuse of due process and rule of law accusations?”

He said though he was neither a politician nor bothered by politician's shenanigans, he was concerned when corruption and human rights violation was perpetrated. He condemned the fact that Anambra Governor has refused to conduct local government elections since 2006. “It is an abuse of the Constitution and the rights of the Anambra people – their rights to vote and be voted for at that level/ tier, same as the allegation of dictatorship of dictatorship and conduct of party as a private estate. How have they resolved all of these issues? I doubt it but their interest, not those of the people, is what is at play,” he said.

Other respondents adduced many reasons for what they described as the sudden reconciliation of APGA's warring members. One of such is the accusation that what was bringing the members together was the fear of extinction, which they believed would happen to their party if they continued to squabble amongst themselves, while a new party United Progressive Party (UPP), was threatening to overshadow them.

UPP is a newly registered party formed by Okorie, after he left APGA. At a time, during the introduction of the new party, Okorie had declared that APGA would die a natural death. “APGA with its current crisis will soon become history,” he declared. “I founded the party and the day I handed over the party's (APGA's) registration certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); the spirit and soul of APGA have departed and now resides with UPP.

“What I am telling you is not fallacy. The father has spiritual control over the son he brought to this world. Those parading themselves as leaders of APGA now are just chasing shadows. The party is dead. UPP is not like any other party where godfathers hold sway.”

It is therefore being claimed that the fear of UPP had driven the warring members of APGA to reconcile. Another school of thought insisted that the only unifying factor for the warring APGA members at the moment was the next governorship election coming up in Anambra State in 2014, which the members feared their squabbling could lead to their defeat. However, the reconciling members claimed it was their desire to keep alive the party as a legacy of its late leader, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu that was bringing them together.